Personal info

  • Name: William Henry METCALF
  • D.O.B: 29th January, 1895
  • D.O.A: 2nd September, 1918
  • D.O.D: 9th August, 1968
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Lance Corporal, 16th Battalion The Manitoba Regiment (Canadian Scottish), 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 2
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The Drocourt-Quéant Line, France 2-4 September 1918

2-4 September 1918

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The First World War 1918 

On 2 September 1918 the Allies attacked and broke through the Drocourt-Quéant Line, the German defensive position east of Arras stretching from Drocourt, just south-east of Lens, in the north, to Quéant, north-east of Bapaume and west of Cambrai, in the south. 11th Division of XXII Corps was south of the River Scarpe and moved south-eastwards from near Hamblain-les-Prés. It was in a reconnaissance across the River Cojeul, southwest of Étaing, during which a German machine-gun post was also knocked-out, that Lance Sergeant A W Evans, 6th Battalion The Lincolnshire Regiment, distinguished himself. On 11th Division’s flank to the south, 4th Canadian Division advanced north of the Arras to Cambrai road and 75th Battalion 1st Central Ontario Regiment and 87th Battalion Quebec Regiment took part in the attack on German positions near Dury. Captain B S Hutcheson, Canadian Army Medical Corps, attached to 75th Battalion, and Private J F Young, 87th Battalion, a stretcher-bearer, showed conspicuous bravery under fire in this sector. 1st Canadian Division advanced south of the Arras to Cambrai road. 10th Battalion Alberta Regiment captured Villers-lès-Cagnicourt, just south of the road. Sergeant A G Knight exhibited great gallantry during this action. 16th Battalion The Manitoba Regiment met heavy machine-gun fire near Cagnicourt, just to the south, and Lieutenant Colonel C W Peck distinguished himself by his steadfastness in overcoming this resistance. Lance Corporal W H Metcalf, of the same battalion, led a tank to attack the enemy during this action. Private W L Rayfield, 7th Battalion The British Columbia Regiment, also showed conspicuous bravery in the fighting near Cagnicourt. To the south of the Canadians, XVII Corps manned the line. 1st Battalion The Royal Munster Fusiliers took part in the advance east of Riencourt-lès-Cagnicourt. It was in the fighting here that Company Sergeant Major M Doyle distinguished himself by his gallantry. South-east of Riencourt and Quéant, 63rd Royal Naval Division pushed forwards and Commander D M W Beak (see 21-25 August 1918 above) and Chief Petty Officer G Prowse were awarded the VC for their part in the fighting at Pronville.

Citation

 For most conspicuous bravery, initiative and devotion to duty in attack, when, the right flank of the battalion being held up, he realised the situation and rushed forward under intense machine-gun fire to a passing Tank on the left. With his signal flag he walked in front of the Tank, directing it along the trench in a perfect hail of bullets and bombs. The machine-gun strong points were overcome, very heavy casualties were inflicted on the enemy, and a very critical situation was relieved. Later, although wounded, he continued to advance until ordered to get into a shell hole and have his wounds dressed. His valour throughout was of the highest standard. 

Seventh Supplement to The London Gazette of 12 November 1918. 15 November 1918, Numb. 31012, p. 13473

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